What race should a talking cow be?

“The first stop on the tour [of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte] is Bessie, a big Holstein waiting in her stall … to talk about Reverend Graham as a child. Bessie’s head mooves left and right, her lower jaw mooves up and down to approximate speech. She describes young Billy Frank’s cold hands on her udder. She tells us that he practiced preaching to tree stumps and sometimes while milking her….

“Here’s what really floors me: Bessie’s words are definitely spoken by an African American woman.

“Does this choice of voice strike anybody else as weird here in this mighty white shrine, especially given the South’s vexed racial past? The feisty delivery makes it like sound like this actress is enjoying  herself — maybe she appreciated the irony or tone-deaf cluelessness of the casting….”

— From “Just As I Am Not: A Poet Visits the Billy Graham Library” by Michael McFee in Southern Cultures (Summer 2010)

3 thoughts on “What race should a talking cow be?”

  1. Does the name Ethel Waters mean anything to anyone? Besides, the last time I checked, Rev. Graham preached that people of all races needed to be saved, so even if this cow “sounds” African-American, and I know many people of African ancestry who would take offense at the notion that it’s possible to “sound” African-American except within the boundries of the listener’s own stereotypes, an African-American’s voice is not out of place in the Billy Graham Library.

  2. African American’s sound a certain way? It seems like there may be more racism in this article than at the Billy Graham Library…

  3. Are you kidding me? What race? Perhaps you would prefer some sort of robotic monotone? Are you really a poet? Take my advice, stick to poetry.

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